In Volume 1 of Jormungand, we determined that this series is a fun, sometimes funny, light-hearted look at an occupation with is not at all funny and very definitely full of dark hearts, dealers of arms. In Volume 2, it’s more of the same.
There’s a certain amount of philosophical rambling I’m willing to put up with in stories of people with no ethical underpinnings. It’s interesting to watch authors struggle with the “why” someone would do something so awful and interesting to see that they often have to create a kind of cheerful nihilism to explain it, so that their characters remain likable while slaughtering people. It’s an interesting set of hoops that I have also occasionally jumped through – no less interesting when I have been jumping through them. How does one create damaged goods that are still charming? Well, first, you give them a philosophy that precludes selfishness. They must not just be in it for what they can get, or we won’t give a shit. Then you bond them into a team that not only takes care of one another – they must like and respect one another, so we are assured that they have some humanity left. Then – and this is the most important part – give each of them a moment of honest frailty and a sense of humor about it. Without the sense of humor about their frailty, they become a tragic figure. And the moment that happens, they must die.
Jormungand‘s cast has all these things. They are loyal, they don’t have noble ideals at all, but they are perfectly aware of what they do and why and what it really means – which is nothing at all. They don’t live in the center of their universe. They are a team that respects and likes one another and because Koko doesn’t take herself seriously, they are relived of having to take themselves seriously. Because Koko likes Jonah, they all rally around him as a surrogate family. Koko is the center of their universe and ours. They live or die by her command and we enjoy this story because she enjoys being in it. Without that, our interest would die.
I am pleased that Valmet has a delusion about being in love with Koko, because it allows me to review this manga here. I’m also pleased that she’s not shy about it, because it serves the plot that she is not. I am perfectly content that it is one-sided, because it is amusing without asking me to commit any emotional resources to it.
Like Dogs, Bullets and Carnage and Black Lagoon, the story will sometimes examine a piece of the damage that makes up the past of the one of characters, but is strongest when that’s thrown that aside for an equipment jargon- and obscenity-laced, physics-defying fight. That is why we read it. To have the fights that we cannot – to be the hard-assed, highly-skilled killers that we can never be (and really don’t want to be, but it feels good to sometimes think about it.)
I like Jormungand and not at all despite myself. I grew up on a steady diet of action flicks and adventure books. This is the kind of stuff I choose to read when I am free from reading horrible ecchi Yuri romances that make me want to sob, because they fail on every level of storytelling. (What I would give for Komari to return to the dorm in Gokujou Drops with one of Koko’s guns and resolve the matter of the ongoing sexual harassment permanently.) This manga is a rollicking adventure story, where the bad guys are the good guys and there are no good guys and no one wins.
Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 3
Service – 3
Overall – 8
Whether you read it for the amusing attempt at philosophical discourse, the Yuri, the humor, the action or the exercise in trying to make killing people not so bad in your head for a little while, Jormungand is stupid. But it’s fun stupid and that’s all that matters.